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7 Jun 2005 : Column 532W—continued


Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of waiting times for hysterosalpingo-contrast-sonography; and if she will make a statement. [263]

Caroline Flint: Information on waiting times for hysterosalpingo-contrast-sonography is not held centrally. This is a matter for local determination. The guideline produced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence on the assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems advises that in certain cases a hysterosalpingogram (an X-ray) should be offered to examine fallopian tubes, and that where appropriate expertise is available, screening using hysterosalpingo-contrast-ultrasononography (a scan) should be considered as an effective alternative.

Illegal Meats

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government are taking to combat the use of illegal meats in restaurants. [2221]

Caroline Flint: The responsibility of enforcement in premises such as restaurants rests with local authorities. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) works closely with the United Kingdom's local authorities and also with other Government Departments and agencies, by sharing information and developing strategies for tackling all meat fraud more effectively.

The FSA has introduced a number of measures to help local authorities, such as the issuing last year of comprehensive guidance to help local authorities investigating illegal meat crimes. In addition, the FSA has established a 'fighting fund' that local authorities can apply to for financial assistance when investigating meat crimes.

The FSA has also created a UK-wide illegal meat taskforce, which is comprised of 24 enforcement officers specially trained by the FSA in advanced investigation skills and relevant legislation. Members are drawn from local authorities regionally spread across the UK. They are available to assist other enforcers investigating illegal meat.

The FSA has established the meat fraud and diversity branch within its enforcement division, which provides technical advice and guidance directly to local authorities on relevant enforcement issues. In line with the requirements of the FSA's new strategic plan, the branch is also currently establishing a food fraud database, which will further enhance local authorities' abilities to carry out effective investigations into the trade in illegal meat.


Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what additional resources will be made available to NHS bodies in the event of an outbreak of pandemic influenza. [267]

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Caroline Flint: Planning for emergencies is a core task for national health service bodies. The Government are purchasing 14.6 million courses of antivirals to support the NHS response. The Department has published operational guidance for the NHS entitled Influenza Pandemic Contingency Planning: Operational guidance for health service planners" to help NHS organisations with their plans, and has tasked the Health Protection Agency to produce infection control guidance and clinical management protocols, which will help the NHS in planning effectively.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the success rate of births using IVF has been in each year since 1997. [2199]

Caroline Flint: The live birth rate per treatment cycle started, for the United Kingdom, is shown in the table:
In vitro fertilisation (IVF): Live birth rates per treatmentcycle started 1997

Live birth rate (percentage)
Fresh embryo transfersFrozen embryo transfersFresh/Frozen embryo transfers
2002–033, 4
under 3527.615.4

(24) Figures are for patients of all ages using fresh and frozen embryo transfer.
(25) No figures published for 2001–02.
(26) No all ages" figures published. Live birth rates published by age band and embryo type for IVF patients using own eggs.
(27) The most recent year for which information is available.
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority annual reports and patient guide.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Government have spent on the provision of IVF treatment in each year since 1997. [2218]

Caroline Flint: It is for primary care trusts to determine how to use the funding allocated to them to commission services to meet the healthcare needs of the local population, including fertility services. Information on expenditure on in vitro fertilisation is not collected centrally.

Mobile Telephones

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has examined on whether there is a link between keeping a working mobile phone in a breast pocket and cardiac rhythm dysfunction; and if she will make a statement. [1614]

Caroline Flint: Only a few scientific studies have investigated if the signals from mobile phones can have a detrimental effect on the heart and I am advised that these have not found any consistent effects on cardiac function or blood pressure. The United Kingdom mobile telecommunications and health research
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(MTHR) programme, jointly funded by Government and industry, is currently supporting a large, well conducted study investigating the effects of mobile phones on blood pressure and cardiac function in healthy people. The results are expected to be published in 2006. Descriptions of all the studies supported under this research programme are on the MTHR website at

Research on exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields was comprehensively reviewed in 2003 by the independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) in Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields" [Documents of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), Vol. 14, No 2]. AGNIR concluded that:

This information is available on the Health Protection Agency (HPA) website at AGNIR advises the HPA's radiation protection division, formerly the NRPB, which keeps the worldwide research findings under surveillance.


Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice she plans to give to primary care trusts on the commissioning of services from pharmacists to secure a common protocol to be followed. [2077]

Jane Kennedy: The new community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) went live from 1 April. Contractors should ensure by 1 October they meet the requirements for the provision of essential services. Where a pharmacy proposes to provide advanced services, it must also meet the necessary accreditation requirements. Guidance for primary care trusts (PCTs) and contractors about the new CPCF is available on the Department's website at AndStatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGui dance/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidanceArticle/fs/en?C ONTENT_ID=4109256&chk=/hpbTh.

Further guidance on commissioning local enhanced services will be available to PCTs and contractors as soon as possible.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she plans to take to ensure that patients may choose the pharmacy nominated to receive the electronic transfers of their prescriptions. [2091]

Jane Kennedy: The electronic transmission of prescriptions (ETP) service being developed by the National Health Service Connecting for Health will allow patients to nominate where they would like their prescription to be dispensed. They will be able to ask their general practitioner's surgery or a pharmacy to log their chosen dispenser with the ETP service. If asked to recommend a dispenser, a prescriber will need to provide a list of dispensers who operate the ETP service, as provided by the primary care trust. In time, it is expected that patients will also be able to log their nomination online, via HealthSpace.
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